I made my kids go to school today. They didn’t want to go, and that’s unusual. Both my boys have discovered that it is easier to just go to school and keep up with the work than to miss a day and have to make it up. I’ve had to put my foot down in the past to get them to take a sick day when they truly were sick. They are also socially motivated to go to school, so when they balk it’s cause for concern.
It seems that last year, a high school student made a threat about shooting up the school on April 23, 2010 and a message to that extent was found written on a bathroom wall. The school investigated and the author of the threat was never found. Today is the threatened day.
When Jake asked if I would pick him up today at 11:30 so he wouldn’t have to walk from the middle school to the high school for Japanese class, I was surprised. Jake loves his Japanese class and I couldn’t believe he wanted to miss it. So, we talked about it and I found out that Jake was having anxiety about the shooting threat and felt he would be vulnerable walking across the street to the high school. It hadn’t even crossed my mind how that would feel.
The high school is built up on a hill and looks over the property on which the middle school sits. Of course, if there were a gunman anywhere on the north side of the building, anyone walking from the middle school over would be vulnerable. This image makes me so sad. I am sad that my fourteen year old was driven to calculate a point of vulnerability in his daily routine. I’m sure his exposure to video games and movie footage gave him the knowledge to figure it out, but going to school just shouldn’t conjure those images.
Up until last night, Sean, my high-schooler, hadn’t mentioned the threat. By late evening, kids were posting concerns and bantering about wrong and right choices for the day on Facebook, so I asked Sean how he felt about it. He said he was scared to go to school but he hadn’t mentioned it because he figured I would tell him to go anyway. Well, he was right and I think we will all have a talk after school today about why going to school was the right choice in my opinion, but he also described a jarring image at the root of his fear. Sean said he was concerned about passing periods because the hallways are so packed full between classes that he feared turning a corner and coming face-to-face with a gun wielding student and having nowhere to run. Again, I am disturbed that my child has thought this through to this degree.
I am angry that my kids had to summon courage to go to school today. I am angry that a terrorist put me in the position in which I had to choose whether or not to send my kids to school. But then I remember that the terrorist is a child. The person who wrote the words on the wall that marked this day is someone who is hurting. Even if the words were written as a misguided joke, the person who wrote them is in need. So, this morning when I asked God to give my kids courage and to protect the children of our community, I also made a request for that one. I asked God to bring that child peace and a sense of belonging so that whatever feelings drove him or her to write those words will be relieved. I firmly believe it’s wrong to let fear drive our decisions and so I made my kids go to school today.